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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release May 4, 1999

          Also Calls on Congress to Approve Administration's 
                    Livable Communities Initiative

Detroit, MI -- Vice President Gore today announced nearly 50 commitments by federal agencies to help build a more sustainable America, and he called on Congress to approve the Administration's proposals for helping state and local governments build more livable communities for the 21st century.

In an address to the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America at Detroit's Cobo Convention Center, the Vice President said the gathering of 3,000 business, community and elected leaders represented a growing movement across the country supporting new, innovative strategies that promote a high quality of life, a healthy environment, and strong economic growth.

"Many of you have worked for years to promote the kind of growth that is good for families, good for communities, and good for our economy," the Vice President said. "When we consider what is at stake -- our economic strength, our public safety, our air and water and open space, the strength of our families, and our very sense of community -- we realize that this truly is a great national challenge for the 21st century."

The National Town Meeting, cosponsored by the President's Council on Sustainable Development and the nonprofit Global Environment & Technology Foundation, is highlighting sustainable practices pioneered by businesses and communities across the country. The Town Meeting's co-hosts are the City of Detroit, Wayne County, the State of Michigan, General Motors Corporation, and the Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES). An estimated 60,000 people are participating by satellite at more than 100 sites across the country.

One of the goals of the Town Meeting is to stimulate 2,000 commitments from individuals, businesses, and communities by the year 2000 to undertake new efforts to ensure sustainable growth and a better quality of life.

As a demonstration of the federal government's dedication to the Town Meeting's goals, the Vice President announced 47 commitments from 11 federal agencies, including:

The Department of Agriculture will expand its efforts to promote local farmers' markets that help sustain family farms while providing fresh produce directly to consumers.

The General Services Administration is creating a new Center of Expertise for Urban Development and Livability to strengthen the agency's efforts to leverage its huge urban real estate holdings in support of downtown revitalization, for instance by locating new federal buildings downtown.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will accelerate efforts to acquire or elevate homes and other structures in high-risk floodplains, protecting both people and property from recurring natural disasters, and ensuring communities a more sustainable economic base.

The Department of Transportation is launching a Transportation Livability Initiative to help communities improve their transportation decisionmaking. The Department will develop a toolkit and a website, outline available transportation resources, showcase success stories, convene regional working groups on livability, and collaborate with other Federal agencies on livability activities.

"As people across America pull together to create more livable, sustainable communities, we in the federal government are fully committed to doing our part," the Vice President said. "We are reinventing the way we do business to be a full partner in building a more sustainable America."

In his remarks, the Vice President also called on Congress to approve the Administration's proposed Livable Communities Initiative, which would provide communities with new tools and resources to preserve green spaces, ease traffic congestion, and pursue "smart growth" strategies.

The initiative includes $700 million in new tax credits for Better America Bonds, which would help communities leverage nearly $10 billion over five years to improve water quality, protect green spaces, and clean up brownfields. It also proposes a record $6.1 billion for public transit, and $1.6 billion to support state and local projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

"Our goal is to provide more choice for communities. We can empower people at the grassroots level by giving them the tools and resources they need to create the communities they want," the Vice President said. "When we work together, we can craft solutions that are good for cities, suburbs, and rural areas. We can sustain our prosperity, improve our quality of life, and restore a sense of community -- for all Americans."

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Summaries of the federal commitments announced at the National Town Meeting are available by request at 202-456-7035.